FAU CARD Examines ASD Identification Disparity Among Black Americans

FAU CARD to study factors behind the later and often less accurate identification of Black children with autism.

by Teresa Crane | Thursday, Jun 24, 2021

A grant from the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council will allow Florida Atlantic University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (FAU CARD) to conduct research related to factors behind the later and often less accurate identification of Black children with autism. More than $155,000 will fund a beginning project to attain critical information to assist decision makers to effectively plan strategies that lead to earlier identification and eligibility determinations to assure appropriate services are in place for Black children identified with ASD.

“We are excited to receive this grant to study the problem of under-identification, delayed identification and misidentification of Black children with autism spectrum disorders. Upon completion FAU CARD research findings will be shared to effect change and services in this area, as well as make recommendations for policy changes at the state level,” said Maryellen Quinn-Lunny, FAU CARD director.

A disparity exists in the number of Black children being identified as ASD in their early years and there is under-representation of these children in programs designed to serve them. Torica Exume, clinical specialist/program coordinator for the study, will conduct surveys, focus groups, and targeted interviews with Exceptional Student Education and Early Intervention directors and staff, school and clinical psychologists, health care providers, faith-based representatives and other stakeholders deemed appropriate for the purpose of examining experiences in early identification of autism in Black children. Research components will include validating how children are being identified, the timeliness and accuracy of identification, and the impact of family member education as a predictor of receiving an earlier diagnosis and appropriate interventions and services.

“ASD diagnosis and identification are the gateway to not only evidence-based therapies and intervention for the child, but much-needed parent education, as well as essential behavioral strategies to manage their child and maintain safety for their child with ASD in the home and community settings. Understanding the identification of Black children through the ASD identification process will inform autism providers, educators and practitioners in developing culturally sensitive and effective practices, to better support Black parents through the ASD identification process,” Exume said.         

The study will utilize a qualitative and quantitative research design, employing an informative, phenomenological approach to better understand how Black children become identified for autism spectrum disorder and develop key recommendations to help increase ASD diagnosis and eligibility.